Swing Dancing in San Francisco


I tell people I majored in English Literature at McGill, but the truth is that for the five years I was at McGill, school was really secondary to my main passion, which was night clubbing. I threw myself into the night scene in Montreal with a passion – not just because I loved people and the higher-than-average rate of serendipitious incidents between two and six am  – but because I have always loved dancing. My friend Chantelle and I would regularly go dancing five nights a week: Wednesday and Thursdays were less busy and so there was always a clear dance floor, but then how could we stay away on the hoppin’ Friday and Saturday nights? Sunday nights were down nights too, so mellower and often free entrance. Well, as young women wearing short dresses and big smiles we rarely EVER paid to get in a club, or for drinks, or anything else for that matter. It was a straight-to-the-front-of-the line time of life.

And it never occurred to me then that night clubbing and dancing were going to be a part of my twenties and not my thirties or forties. I naively assumed that if I loved dancing, that I would always find the opportunities to dance. It hasn’t been as easy as all that. For a while I would slip out to a club whenever I was in a big city with friends – LA, Sydney, London, Melbourne, but quickly I discovered that the clubbing crowd was getting younger and younger and I no longer had the wardrobe, body, or moves to feel comfortable in a big city night club, so gradually dancing slipped out of my life completely.

So, I’ve followed with interest my friend Nathen’s passion for Lindy dancing over the couple years. He’s so passionate about it that he actually goes to dance marathons and dances all weekend long! He’s even given us lessons in his mom’s living room. (You can see a video of his brother Ely dancing lindy in his birthday circle last month here.)

Now I’ve just spent the last half hour deciphering Nathen’s notes on the back of my New Yorker for great places to learn the lindy in San Francisco because apparently when my brother and Nathen were helping us move, Songbae was interested in learning the Lindy himself. And since I’ve done the research now, I might as well share it in a post. This information comes from Nathen’s friend in the Bay area who is an avid dancer herself. Lindy seems like such a great way to dance and be with people, especially since it feels so “clean” (ie, no drugs, alcohol, or smoke!) Soon I’ll have to do similar research for my part of southern Orange County.

Nathen’s notes recommended four places:

  1. 9:20 Special on Thursday night at Russian Center – Dances start at 9:20 pm and go until 12:30 every Thursday night. It costs $8 and beginning lessons are available in series of four at 8:20 pm. A new series begins each month.
  2. The Doghouse at the ODC Commons is closed.
  3. In Redwood City, swing dancing is taught at Swing Central by champs Carla and Kevin. There are lots of fun videos there too. Thursday nights they offer drop-in beginner’s swing lessons from 8:15-9:15 pm and social dancing from 9:15-11:30 pm. Just social dancing (no partner required) costs only $7, while lesson plus dancing costs $12. Sounds like swing dancing is affordable entertainment.
  4. The fourth note is the only one I’m not sure if I got correctly, but I think it’s Friday Night Blues at beyondblues.com
  5. And lastly, in my internet searching, I found a blog-style listing of places to lindy hop SEVEN DAYS A WEEK. Read the column here. How very cool.
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